This Is Why You Should Pay for Porn

The first time I watched porn, I was 18 and sitting in the common room of Scales House on the Smith College campus. A house-wide email had informed me of this tradition—“porn and pizza”—so there I was with my newly-minted best friend, trying to appear blasé. After some discussion among the more established members of the house, a senior popped in a DVD featuring hot girl-on-girl action. One woman wore glossy black latex gloves and had fingernails like stilettos. The other perched on the rim of a bathtub, legs spread. I felt my cheeks getting hotter and hotter.

When Sinn Sage, an AVN award-winning porn performer and sex educator, started working in the adult film industry in 2003, she mostly booked shoots for DVDs like the one that flustered me. But by the time I was watching that DVD in 2008, things were different. “Tube sites, torrents, and streaming, all that has drastically changed the business model for anyone in porn,” Sage tells SELF. Basically, it became very easy for casual porn viewers to watch what they wanted, when they wanted, for exactly zero dollars.

Sage and other performers used to earn the bulk of their income from shoots with production companies, but with rates dropping and shoots becoming less and less frequent, she now also shoots and sells her own content, including custom videos tailor-made to buyers’ requests. “Now you have to be the product you’re selling,” she says. Feeling a personal connection can be the factor that convinces someone to pay for one of your videos, rather than pirating it.

“It’s understandable why people have expectations that adult entertainment should be free,” Kit Murray Maloney, founder and head curator of O’actually, a multimedia platform dedicated to celebrating women’s pleasure, tells SELF. O’actually is in beta mode at the moment, but eventually, they’ll introduce fee-based memberships that place most of their offerings behind a paywall. “We’re willing to exchange money for other kinds of entertainment, and sexual entertainment should be the same,” she says.

Paying for porn is better for both the people watching it and the people making it.

Maloney’s is both a business case and a personal plea: It’s worth paying for the material on her site to be “guided to porn in a way that’s fun, playful, and empowering.” Not only will you get to avoid the endless stream of pop-up advertisements (hot babes near you are looking for an older man!) and urgent flash player updates that you should definitely not download now, but you’ll also get to peruse a beautifully-designed site with witty, tempting video descriptions, helpful reviews from other viewers, and genuinely alluring video stills.

I won’t lie, I’ve watched porn for free before. I also understand that having money to spend on entertainment of any kind is a luxury. But here’s why I think the choice to pay for the porn you watch matters more than whether you pony up for an HBO subscription or search for a bootleg version of the latest release: The people who create porn are already marginalized by the work they do, making it that much harder for them to get paid fairly for their labor in the first place.

It’s also harder for creators of adult content to enforce copyright. “I recently read a case saying that they didn’t want to go after people who illegally downloaded porn because it would be humiliating for those people,” Lorelei Lee, an adult film performer and writer, tells SELF. Insert facepalm emoji here.

The stigma around watching porn can be especially oppressive for women. A recent study of 24,000 women who watched content on one of the largest adult video sites found that 54 percent don’t talk to their friends about their porn consumption, and 51 percent would be ashamed if their friends knew they were into it. Maloney believes a lot of our hang-ups around porn stem from the fact that we blur the lines between what it is—fantasy fodder designed to stimulate arousal—and what it isn’t—your actual sexual reality.

My taste in porn tends toward two general types, which sometimes, delightfully, overlap: pretty and raw. I like artful lighting, carefully-framed shots, and lingering close-ups of mouths. I also like porn that feels spontaneous and orgasms I can believe in.

The kind of visceral, compelling performances and high-end production values I go for cost money. “I’m creating what I consider an art form. Sometimes, I might be creating a performance of orgasm that I value. Sometimes, we’re not being paid enough for authenticity,” Lee tells SELF.

When it comes to selecting content for O’actually, Maloney does place an emphasis on representing what pleasure really looks like. She wants to capture “the plurality of authentic female orgasms,” something that’s underrepresented in adult entertainment. Or, really, in mainstream entertainment as a whole. “Women can start to feel their orgasms aren’t big enough, loud enough, or quick enough. I’m trying to challenge that,” Maloney says. She’s also showcasing performers of all body types, ethnicities, races, and ages so that viewers can see the desirability of bodies that look like theirs.

“I do my darndest to curate in a way that’s ethical and respectful,” she says. “I get to know people behind camera, their work, the people they work with, and see if they feel like an aligned fit. Our focus is on what we want to create and have more of—pleasure, with less shame and guilt attached.”

I’m excited by the content Maloney has curated so far, including videos directed by Erika Lust, one of a growing number of filmmakers creating “ethical” or “feminist” porn. These directors and producers focus on fair wage and labor practices for their performers, and high production value. They often are women and employ more women than you’d typically find working behind the scenes.

But both Lee and Sage warn that a film being marketed as feminist or ethical offers no guarantee the content you’re watching was created in a fair and respectful manner. If you want to invest in porn that prioritizes the treatment of the performers appearing in it, Lee suggests seeking out content that’s produced or directed by someone who has worked as a performer. While this can take a little research, or preexisting knowledge of the industry, a helpful shortcut is to see whether any of the performers featured in the video also had a hand in its creation.

“Just making the choice as a woman to perform in porn and to put your heart into it, that’s a feminist statement, period,” says Sage. While she’s dubious about the value labels hold, she has found that working on indie, queer porn sets or shooting custom videos with friends allows for more freedom. “Those are the places where I can be the most safe, secure, and creative.”

When you support the work of porn producers who prioritize the physical, emotional, and financial health of the performers they work with, you make it more viable for other producers to do the same.

These five companies have all been described by performers as ethical and all create the kind of conceptually intriguing, visually stimulating (and not just because the performers are hot) kind of content I go for: PinkLabel TV, TrenchcoatX, Kink.com, Trouble Films, and Burning Angel. Three of the five—TrenchcoatX, Trouble Films, and Burning Angel—are helmed by performers. Other carefully vetted options about on the O’actually site, helpfully organized into categories like “Female Filmmakers,” “Glamour Porn,” and “Real World Sex.”

It’s absolutely worthwhile to put time and thought into finding porn you can feel good about getting off to, and supporting ethical practices by paying for porn from producers who treat and pay their performers fairly. But that won’t radically alter the porn industry as we know it. Better labor conditions for porn performers, Lee says, depend on reducing the stigma associated with sex work. A simple, meaningful, completely free way you can do that? Talk about the fact that you watch porn.

There’s real skill in fantasy sports

If you’ve ever taken part in the armchair sport of fantasy football and found yourself at the top of your league’s standings at the end of the season, a new MIT study suggests your performance — however far removed from any actual playing field — was likely based on skill rather than luck.

Those looking for ways to improve their fantasy game will have to look elsewhere: The study doesn’t identify any specific qualities that make one fantasy player more skilled over another. Instead, the researchers found, based on the win/loss records of thousands of fantasy players over multiple seasons, that the game of fantasy football is inherently a contest that rewards skill.

“Some [fantasy] players may know more about statistics, rules of the game, which players are injured, effects of weather, and a host of other factors that make them better at picking players — that’s the skill in fantasy sports,” says Anette “Peko” Hosoi, associate dean of engineering at MIT. “We ask, does that skill have an impact on the outcome of the [fantasy] game? In our analysis, the signal for skill in the data is very clear.”

Other fantasy sports such as baseball, basketball, and hockey also appear to be games of skill — considerably more so than activities based on pure chance, such as coin-flipping. What ultimately do these results mean for the average fantasy player?

“They probably can’t use our study to assemble better sports teams,” says Hosoi, who is also the Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “But they can use it to talk better smack when they’re at the top of their standings.”

The team’s findings appear this week in the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Review. Hosoi’s co-authors are first author Daniel Getty, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; graduate student Hao Li; former graduate student Charles Gao; and Masayuki Yano of the University of Toronto.

A fantasy gamble

Hosoi and her colleagues began looking into the roles of skill and chance in fantasy sports several years ago, when they were approached by FanDuel, the second largest company in the daily fantasy sports industry. FanDuel provides online platforms for more than 6 million registered users, who use the site to create and manage fantasy teams — virtual teams made up of real players of professional sports, which fantasy players can pick and draft to their fantasy team. Players can pit their team against other virtual teams, and whether a team wins or loses depends on how the real players perform in actual games in a given day or week.

In recent years, the question has arisen as to whether fantasy sports are a potential form of online gambling. Under a federal law known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, or UIGEA, online players of games such as poker are prohibited from transmitting across state lines funds won through gambling activities using the internet. The law exempts fantasy sports, stating that the game is not a form of betting or wagering.

However, the UIGEA was not drafted to alter the legality of internet wagering, which is, for the most part, determined by individual states. As fantasy sports — and fantasy football in particular — have grown more popular, with prominent ads on commercial and cable television, a handful of states have questioned the legality of fantasy sports and the companies that enable them.

Gambling, of course, is defined as any money-exchanging activity that depends mostly on chance. Fantasy sports would not be considered a form of gambling if it were proven to be more of a contest of skill.

“That is the question that FanDuel wanted us to investigate: Have they designed the contest such that skill is rewarded? If so, then these contests should be classified as games of skill, and are not gambling,” Hosoi says. “They gave us all of their data, and asked whether we could determine the relative role of skill and luck in the outcomes.”

Tests of skill and chance

The team analyzed daily fantasy competitions played on FanDuel during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, in baseball, basketball, hockey, and football. In their analysis, the researchers followed guidelines laid out originally by economist and “Freakonomics” author Steven Levitt, along with Thomas Miles and Andrew Rosenfield. In a research paper they wrote in 2012, the economists sought to determine whether a game — in this case, poker — was based more on skill than on chance.

They reasoned that if a game were more skill-based, then a player’s performance should be persistent. It might be good or bad, but it would remain relatively constant over multiple rounds.

To test this in the context of fantasy sports, Hosoi’s team looked at the win/loss record of every fantasy player in FanDuel’s dataset, over one season. For each (anonymized) player, the researchers calculated the fraction of wins the player experienced over the first half of the season versus the second half. They then represented each player’s performance over an entire season as a single dot on a graph whose vertical and horizontal axes represented the win fraction for the first and second halves of the season, respectively.

If a given fantasy sport were based more on skill, then a individual player’s win fraction should be approximately the same — be it 90 percent or 10 percent — for the first and second halves of the season. When every player’s performance is plotted on the same graph, it should roughly resemble a line, indicating a prevalence of skill. On the other hand, if the game were one of chance, every player should have around a 50 percent win fraction, which on the graph would look more like a circular cloud.

For every fantasy sport, the researchers found the graph skewed more linear versus circular, indicating games of skill rather than chance.

The researchers tested a second hypothesis proposed by Levitt: If a game is based on chance, then every player should have the same expected outcome, just as flipping a coin has the same probability for landing heads versus tails. To test this idea, the team split the fantasy player population into two groups: those that played a large number of games, versus those who only participated in a few.

“Even when you correct for biases, like people who quit after losing a lot of games in a row, you find there’s a statistically higher win fraction for people who play a lot versus a little, regardless of the [type of] fantasy sport, which is indicative of skill,” Hosoi says.

The last test, again proposed by Levitt, was to see whether a player’s actions had any impact on the game’s outcome. If the answer is yes, then the game must be one of skill.

“So we looked at how the actual playing population on FanDuel performed, versus a random algorithm,” Hosoi says.

The researchers devised an algorithm that created randomly generated fantasy teams from the same pool of players that were available to the FanDuel users. The algorithm was designed to follow the rules of the game and to be relatively smart in how it generated each team.

“We ran hundreds of thousands of games, and looked at the scores of actual fantasy players, versus scores of computer-generated fantasy players,” Hosoi says. “And you see again that the fantasy players beat the computer-generated ones, indicating that there must be some skill involved.”

Sports on a spectrum

To put their findings in perspective, the researchers plotted the results of each fantasy sport on a spectrum of luck versus skill. Along this spectrum, they also included each fantasy sport’s real counterpart, along with other activities, such as coin flipping, based entirely on chance, and cyclocross racing, which hinges almost entirely on skill.

For the most part, success while playing both fantasy sports and real sports skewed more toward skill, with baseball and basketball, both real and virtual, being more skill-based compared to hockey and football.

Hosoi reasons that skill may play a relatively large role in basketball because the sport encompasses more than 80 games in a season.

“That’s a lot of games, and there are a lot of scoring opportunities in each game,” Hosoi says. “If you get a lucky basket, it doesn’t matter too much. Whereas in hockey, there are so few scoring opportunities that if you get a lucky goal it makes a difference, and luck can play a much larger role.”

Hosoi says the team’s results will ultimately be useful in characterizing fantasy sports, both in and out of the legal system.

“This is one piece of evidence [courts] have to weigh,” Hosoi says. “What I can give them is a quantitative analysis of where [fantasy sports] sit on the skill/luck spectrum. It’s mostly skill, but there’s always a little bit of luck.”

Can social media lead to labor market discrimination?

A new Journal of Economics & Management Strategy study investigates whether social media may be used as a source of information for recruiters to discriminate against job applicants.

For the study, researchers set up an experiment that involved sending more than 800 applications from two fictitious applicants who differed in their cities of origin, a typical French town (Brives-la-Gaillarde) or Marrakesh, Morocco. This information is available only on their Facebook profiles, not on the resumes or the cover letters sent to recruiters. The investigators selected job openings published in over several months in mid-2012 on the French public agency for employment website Pôle emploi.

A significant 41.7% gap between the two applicants’ callback rates highlighted that personal online profiles are used by recruiters as a source of information to discriminate against applicants of foreign origin.

During the experiment, the Facebook default layout changed as Facebook introduced sub-tabs within profiles. This change reduced the salience of the information related to the applicants’ language spoken. After the layout change, the difference in callback rates faded away. This suggests that the screening conducted by the employers does not go beyond the main pages of profiles. It also indicates that design choices made by online platforms, such as which information is displayed and how it is displayed, may have important consequences on the extent of discrimination.

“This study illustrates that design choices made by online platforms can dramatically affect a decision like calling back, or not, an applicant for a job interview. Internet companies should integrate this fact into their design thinking,” said co-author Dr. Matthieu Manant of University of Paris-Sud.

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Materials provided by Wiley. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Home cleanliness, residents’ tolerance predict where cockroaches take up residence

Poor home sanitation and residents’ tolerance regarding German cockroaches were a good predictor of the pest’s presence in their apartments, according to a Rutgers study in Paterson and Irvington, New Jersey.

The study in the Journal of Economic Entomology included interviews with senior citizen and disabled residents in 388 apartments in seven apartment buildings. Apartment conditions were also checked and glue traps placed to detect cockroaches.

The researchers found 29 percent of surveyed apartments had German cockroaches (Blattella germanica), a high rate compared with the rest of the society. Surprisingly, 35 percent of residents in apartments with cockroaches were unaware of their presence. This is alarming because lack of awareness allows cockroaches to reproduce, contaminate food, spread to neighbors, leave cockroach allergens that can affect human health and diminish future infestation control efforts.

The study also found that apartments with a “poor” sanitation rating in kitchens and bathrooms were 2.7 times more likely to have cockroaches than cleaner apartments. Residents who were more tolerant of cockroaches also had higher rates of cockroach infestation and higher cockroach numbers in their apartments.

Researchers concluded that improving cockroach control in these communities will require educating residents on the dangers of infestation and helping them to improve housekeeping through education and assistance from community and housing management.

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Materials provided by Rutgers University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

White wine, lemon juice combo prevents unwanted discoloration of pastry dough

No matter if it’s grandma’s cookies or commercially produced rolls, pastry lovers expect their baked goods to have a certain “golden brown” allure — but only after baking. A white dough that changes hue during storage, however, can negatively affect the appearance and perception of the final baked product. Now in a study appearing in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists report that they have developed a natural way to prevent discoloration during storage.

Pies, cakes and other pastry doughs are susceptible to enzymatic browning, a chemical process, driven by an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (PPO). It’s the same process that causes bananas and other fruits and vegetables to turn brown. Commercial bakers often prepare dough days or weeks ahead of time, and this type of discoloration could reduce the appeal of the baked product and could lead to economic losses. Commercial additives can help suppress this reaction, but with more and more consumers requesting natural ingredients in their foods, manufacturers are seeking alternative ways to preserve pastries. To address this concern, Peter Fischer and colleagues sought to find a more natural and sustainable way to inhibit enzymatic browning in pastry dough.

The researchers initially tested various synthetic additives and showed that they had different effects on dough. For example, some caused a slight discoloration when initially added, but prevented further discoloration upon storage, while others kept the dough white from the get-go. After a series of experiments with white wine, grape juice and lemon juice, the researchers observed that a combination of white wine and lemon juice did the best job of inhibiting PPO activity and preventing enzymatic browning.

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Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Alzheimer’s Caregiving: How to Ask for Help

Alzheimer’s caregiving is a tough job, and it’s difficult for one person to handle alone. No one is equipped to care for another person 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you’re caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease, understand the stress you’re facing—and know how to ask for help.

What’s happening

At first, you might be able to meet your loved one’s needs yourself. This might last months or even years, depending on how quickly the disease progresses and your own mental and physical health. Eventually, however, your loved one will need more help with everyday tasks, such as eating, bathing, and toileting.

And just as the physical demands of caregiving increase, so can the emotional toll. Challenging dementia-related behaviors can strain the coping skills of even the most patient and understanding caregiver.

The sustained stress of caregiving also can weaken your immune system. You might eat and sleep poorly and have trouble setting aside time for yourself. Caregiving might also increase your risk of depression. Before you know it, you’re so busy caring for your loved one that you could drift away from your family and friends—at a time when you need them the most.

How to share the load

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease with symptoms that get worse over time. Shouldering the load yourself can diminish the quality of the care you provide. If you’re the primary caregiver for your loved one, talk to your family about sharing some of the responsibility.

To prevent caregiver burnout, it’s essential to reach out for support, too. Here’s help getting started:

  • Be realistic. Caregiving is demanding. There’s only so much you can do on your own. Asking for help doesn’t make you inadequate or selfish.
  • Test the waters. Request help. Avoid watering down your request by saying things like, “It’s only a thought.”
  • Suggest specific tasks. Keep a list of ways you need help, so you’ll be ready with suggestions if someone offers. Perhaps a neighbor could do yardwork or pick up your groceries. A relative could sort bills or fill out insurance papers. A friend might take your loved one for a daily walk, giving you valuable time to shop, go to appointments, and complete other tasks.
  • Consider abilities and interests. If a loved one enjoys cooking, ask him or her to help with meal preparation. A neighbor who likes to drive might be able to provide transportation to doctor appointments. A friend who enjoys books might read aloud to your loved one.

You might worry that no one will be willing to help you, but you won’t know until you ask. Although some people might say no, most of your friends and loved ones probably want to help, but simply don’t know how.

When to seek outside help

If you can’t get enough help from your friends and relatives, take advantage of community resources. You might enroll your loved one in an adult day program, both for the social interaction the program will provide your loved one and the caregiving respite it’ll provide you. You might also consider working with an agency that provides household help or assistance with daily tasks. Counseling services and support groups also can help you cope with your caregiving duties.

Think of the process of caregiving as a marathon, not a sprint. Marshal your resources and find every bit of assistance available so that you can conserve your strength for the journey. In the long run, you’ll be helping your loved one as well as yourself.

Updated: 2017-02-21

Publication Date: 2002-12-03

Summer birth and computer games linked to heightened short-sight risk in childhood

Summer birth and hours spent playing computer games are linked to a heightened risk of developing short or near sightedness (myopia) in childhood, indicates a twin study, published online in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

But fertility treatment may be protective, the findings suggest.

Myopia is defined as a refractive error, meaning that the eye can’t focus light properly. The result is that close objects look clear, but distant ones appear blurred.

It can be corrected with prescription glasses, laser surgery, or contact lenses, but the condition is linked to a heightened risk of visual impairment and sight loss in later life.

And it is becoming increasingly common: 4.758 billion people worldwide are likely to be affected by 2050, up from 1.950 billion in 2010.

Genes are thought to have a role, but they don’t fully explain the rising prevalence. And given the rapid development of the eyes in early life, the researchers wanted to explore potential contributory environmental factors across the life course.

They studied 1991 twins whose age was 16.7 years, on average. The twins were all born between 1994 and 1996 in the UK, and taking part in the long term Twins Early Development Study (TEDS).

Opticians provided information from their eye tests about myopia, and the researchers analysed demographic, social, economic, educational and behavioural factors in the twin pairs from when these children were 2,3,4,7,8,10,12,14, and 16 years old, to capture critical stages of child and eye development.

Parents and teachers filled in comprehensive questionnaires and the twins did web based assessments to provide a wide range of background and potentially relevant information on factors that might have influenced early life development.

The average age at which children with myopia started wearing glasses to correct the condition was 11. Around one in 20 (5.4%) had a ‘lazy eye’ (amblyopia) and a similar proportion (nearly 4.5%) had a squint. Overall, one in four (26%) of the twins was myopic.

The factors most strongly associated with the development of myopia across the various time points were the mother’s educational attainment (university or postgraduate level), hours spent playing computer games, and being born during the summer.

Hours spent playing computer games may not just be linked to close working, but also to less time outdoors-a factor that has previously been linked to heightened myopia risk.

Educational level has also been linked to myopia, and as child in the UK born in the summer months will start school at a younger age than those born during the winter months, the researchers suggest that this earlier close work may speed up eye growth which is responsible for short-sightedness.

Higher levels of household income and measures of intelligence, particularly verbal dexterity scores, were associated with heightened risk, but to a lesser extent.

Fertility treatment seemed to afford protection against myopia and was associated with a 25-30 per cent lower risk. The researchers speculate that children born as a result of fertility treatment are often born smaller and slightly more premature, and may have some level of developmental delay, which might account for shorter eye length and less myopia.

This is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause, say the researchers, highlighting that future research may be able to look at the interplay between genetic susceptibility and environmental influences.

In a linked editorial, Drs Mohamed Dirani, Jonathan Crowston, and Tien Wong, of, respectively, the Singapore National Eye Centre, Centre for Eye Research, Melbourne, Australia, and the Department of Surgery, University of Melbourne, point out that environmental factors are now thought to have a greater role than genetic ones.

They add that the study involved data gathered before the explosion in digital media.

“The rapid adoption of smart devices in children adds a new dimension to how we define and quantify near-work activity,” they write…The role of smart devices, quantified as device screen time (DST) must also be investigated.”

And children start using these devices at an increasingly younger age. “The increased DST resulting from gaming, social media, and digital entertainment has led to a rise in sedentary behaviour, poor diet and a lack of outdoor activity,” they suggest.

“The use and misuse of smart devices, particularly in our paediatric populations, must be closely monitored to address the emerging phenomenon of digital myopia,” they conclude.

11 Things I Want From Sephora’s Beauty Insider Holiday Bonus Sale

It’s no secret that I love buying beauty products from Sephora, since it’s easy to shop all my favorite beauty brands at once. It’s especially tempting when I can get markdowns on some of my holy-grail (and wish list) items during one of their awesome sales. If you’re not familiar with Sephora’s rewards program, it’s composed of three different levels: VIB Rouge members (customers who spend upwards of $1,000 per year), VIB members (me and other shoppers who spend upwards of $350 per year), and Beauty Insiders (anyone who signs up for the store membership).

Sephora recently ended the second leg of its holiday sale just for VIB Rouge members, but there’s still plenty of time for the rest of us to take advantage of savings on our favorite products. VIBs are eligible to receive a 20 percent discount from November 9 through November 12 with code “VIBBONUS.” Plus, all Beauty Insiders can score up to 15 percent off their must-have goodies with code “BIBONUS” starting November 16 until November 19.

I’ve already started mapping out the items I hope to find under my tree this year. Read on for some of my top beauty picks that you’ll want to get your hands on—fast.

Amy Schumer Shares an Ultrasound Video of Her Very Energetic Baby: ‘That’s Why I’m Puking Every Day’

Amy Schumer has been giving fans updates on her pregnancy on social media. And on Monday, she shared a video of her ultrasound—and took the opportunity to encourage her fans to get out and vote in the midterms.

“Happy Election Eve!” Schumer, who is in her second trimester, wrote in the caption. “You can look up your polling place + hours by texting LOCATION to 21333 And you can look up a sample ballot to be prepared at vote411.org/ballot Make a plan to #vote and let’s make history tomorrow!”

In the video, you can hear Schumer’s reaction to seeing the ultrasound, which showed her baby moving around in utero. “It’s moving all around! Oh my God, oh my God, see it has so much energy—that’s why I’m puking every day,” she said.

Obviously, she’s not alone in dealing with morning sickness during pregnancy. But does a baby’s activity actually make it worse?

Morning sickness is surprisingly complex, and there are a lot of factors that can influence its severity.

Morning sickness, sometimes called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), is very common in early pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says. And, even though it’s called “morning” sickness, it can happen at any time during the day (or night).

In most cases, morning sickness starts before nine weeks and eases up by the second trimester (around 14 weeks), ACOG explains—which is about the time you start to feel the fluttering of your baby’s movements. But some people find that their morning sickness lasts for months beyond that and even throughout their entire pregnancy.

As SELF explained previously, there are a few things that make it more likely for you to have severe morning sickness, although that doesn’t mean we know why. For instance, if you’re carrying more than one baby, if you have a history of migraines or motion sickness, or if you’re carrying a girl, you may have a harder time with morning sickness. If you’ve had severe morning sickness with a previous pregnancy or if intense morning sickness runs in your family, that can also increase your risk.

Before pregnancy, if you get queasy when you take birth control that contains estrogen, that can be an early warning that you might have more intense morning sickness when you are pregnant, Christine Greves, M.D., a board-certified ob/gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, tells SELF.

Can a particularly active baby make you feel sick? Probably not, but it depends on how far along you are.

“There is no evidence that having an ‘energetic baby’ causes more severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, just as there is no clear definition of what qualifies as an ‘energetic baby,’ especially in the first trimester when NVP symptoms are typically worse,” board-certified ob/gyn Shannon M. Clark, M.D., an associate professor of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch and founder of BabiesAfter35.com, tells SELF.

Also, depending on where you are in your pregnancy, the baby is likely to be too small for its movements to make an impact, Jessica Shepherd, M.D., a minimally invasive gynecologist at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, tells SELF. “They’re literally a tadpole size,” she says.

Although it’s pretty unlikely that an especially active baby causes morning sickness, Dr. Greves says, it may be that having a baby that kicks around a lot inside you simply doesn’t feel great on top of you already feeling queasy—provided you’re far enough along in your pregnancy to actually feel the baby.

If you have morning sickness, you’re probably going to have to ride it out on some level. But there are some ways to ease those symptoms.

ACOG says that making sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids, eating smaller frequent meals rather than three large meals, or sticking with bland foods (like bananas, rice, toast, and applesauce) can help alleviate symptoms of morning sickness. Getting plenty of rest can also help (or at least, help you cope with the symptoms), Dr. Greves says.

If your morning sickness is terrible, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor, Dr. Shepherd says. They may recommend medications, like using vitamin B6, or vitamin B6 and doxylamine together if B6 alone doesn’t help, she says. And if that doesn’t do the trick, your doctor may recommend taking an antiemetic drug to help prevent vomiting.

Overall, know that your morning sickness isn’t unusual. But if it becomes unbearable or you’re having a hard time keeping down food and getting enough nutrients, talk to your doctor about what else you can do.

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4 Ways to Get Into the New York City Marathon—Plus 4 Great Marathons That Are Much Easier to Enter

If you watched the 2018 New York City Marathon on Sunday—either in person or remotely—there’s a chance you may have felt inspired by the 50,000+ athletes who pushed through physical pain, fatigue, and mental roadblocks to tackle 26.2 miles across the city’s five boroughs. For many viewers, whether regular runners or not, that inspiration evolved into a singular thought: I want to be one of those athletes.

Yet, sadly, simply wanting to run this iconic NYC race isn’t enough to guarantee entry. The New York Marathon ranks just behind the Boston Marathon as one of the most selective 26.2-mile events in the country. Here’s how to score a bib—plus four other marathons across the U.S., all great bets for first-timers, that offer easier entry.

There are four ways to get into the New York City Marathon: winning the lottery, fundraising, completing the 9+1 program, and qualifying in another race.

If you’re serious about lacing up next November, you have several options. The first: the drawing system, also called the lottery. Chances are pretty slim that you’ll actually get a bib this way—less than 15 percent of applicants last year were successful—but it’s free to enter and takes just a few minutes, so you might as well try. The time window to apply to the drawing is January 14 to February 14, 2019, and the drawing will take place on February 27, 2019. The link to enter the drawing will be posted on the race website closer to January. There’s also a sweepstakes, expanded in 2019, which will offer 262 winners non-complimentary entry (you get a spot but still have to pay the entrance fee) to the 2019 race and a pair of New Balance socks. You can enter the sweepstakes here.

If you’re looking for a more surefire way to snag entry, you can raise funds for one of the race’s charity partners (see a full list here) and in return, receive a guaranteed spot in the 2019 race. Just keep in mind individual fundraising requirements are pretty high—at least $2,500. More info on running for charity is available on the race website here.

Another route, which is a good bet for Big Apple residents (particularly those who love running races throughout the year), is to opt into the 9+1 or 9+1K programs with New York Road Runners, the non-profit organization that hosts the marathon. Both programs involve becoming an official NYRR member (annual registration costs $40 for adults), and then participating in 9 NYRR races. On top of that, the 9+1 program requires volunteering at one NYRR event during one calendar year (that’s the +1), and the 9+1K program requires donating $1,000 to NYRR’s youth and community service programs. If you meet either of these requirements between January 1 and December 31, 2019, you can guarantee your entry to the 2020 race. Learn more here.

Lastly, in what is arguably the most difficult approach, first-timers can secure a bib by achieving a qualifying time for your age group and gender in either the half- or full-marathon distance. These times aren’t easy—women between ages 18 to 34, for example, have to run a full marathon in 3:13:00 (that’s a 7:21 per mile pace) or a half in 1:32:00 (a 7:01 per mile pace). To secure entry to the 2019 race, you’d have to meet this standard at certain designated races between January 1 and December 31, 2018, and then apply for guaranteed entry through the NYRR website between January 14 and February 14, 2019. See here for a full list of time standards, sanctioned races, and more info.

Looking for a race that’s not as challenging to enter, but just as rewarding? Here are four other marathons across the country that are great options:

Chicago Marathon

  • About: This iconic race through the Windy City is known for being flat, fast, and fun. It’s also one of six World Marathon Majors, the largest and most renowned 26.2-mile races across the globe, which means thousands of athletes—both amateur and elite—participate every year.
  • When: October 13, 2019
  • How to Gain Entry: Apply through the lottery by Thursday, November 29 at 3 P.M. EST. The odds of getting in through this method change every year, but in general, it’s much easier than the NYC lottery. According to Runner’s World, 64 percent of entrants scored a bib to the 2015 race. Similarly to New York, first-time participants can also guarantee entry by raising money for one of the race’s charity partners (at least $1,250 per runner), or by running a qualifying time at another marathon in the past two years. These time standards are easier than New York, though still tough—women ages 16 to 29 must run 26.2 in 3:35:00 (that’s a pace of 8:12 per mile).
  • More Info: chicagomarathon.com

Marine Corps Marathon

  • About: Dubbed “The People’s Marathon,” this annual race through Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., is organized by men and women of the U.S. Marine Corps. Participants rave about the monument-studded course and family-friendly weekend events.
  • When: October 27, 2019
  • How to Gain Entry: The registration process unfolds over several waves. Active duty members of the military can gain entry by registering between March 6 and 11, 2019. Then, any runner can register on March 19 for first-come, first-served entry. From there, runners can partake in the lottery from March 20 to 26 (just be aware, your odds could be tough—just 18 percent of applicants gained a bib in 2015, per The Washington Post). Guaranteed entry options include charity entries, and participation in the Marine Corps 17.75K on March 23, 2019.
  • More Info: marinemarathon.com

Philadelphia Marathon

  • About: This flat, fast course through Philly’s neighborhoods and alongside its iconic Schuylkill River attracts thousands of pro and amateur participants—and thousands more spectators—every year.
  • When: November 18, 2018 (next year’s race will be November 17, 2019)
  • How to Gain Entry: Simply register on the race website. Entry is still open for the 2018 race; registration for 2019 has not yet been announced. Check the website (link below) for updates.
  • More Info: philadelphiamarathon.com

Los Angeles Marathon

  • About: This annual footrace and its “Stadium to Sea” course brings thousands of runners—both elite and amateur—from Dodger Stadium across Los Angeles, through Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and more, to an oceanside finish alongside Santa Monica Pier.
  • When: March 24, 2019
  • How to Gain Entry: Simply register online here.
  • More Info: lamarathon.com